Monday, April 30, 2012

Tangled Webs

On this the last day of a wet and windy April, the referendum debate goes into full swing. On the corresponding day next month, we Irish once again go to the polls to decide on something of national importance when we decide whether to ratify the Fiscal Compact Treaty. Less than 24 hours thereafter the result will be known. If I were a betting man, I'd expect it to pass by at least 3%. For the electorate to opt for a measured approach to austerity as opposed to one swift shot.

It seems like an eternity since the Lisbon 2 referendum. When we chose to ratify that particular treaty - having first rejected it in the early days of Brian Cowen's calamitous reign. Our bargaining chips to secure obedience on that occasion were only approved by the bureaucrats two week ago in Brussels.
   Better late than never I suppose. If those concessions had somehow not been ratified and that then came out during the 'debate' it wouldn't have looked great for the 'Yes' camp.

No concessions like that time around. This time the wording of the treaty leaves nothing to the imagination. It's a case of gun-to-the-head decision-making. Vincent Browne on his show last week even suggested to Leo Varadkar that it was they, the government, who asked for the clause to be written into the treaty. Varadkar denied it.
   By choosing 'Yes,' and signing away controls over how we run our affairs, we will have access to the ESM, (European Stability Mechanism) when we need another bailout. The ESM, a fund pulled from the sky aimed at appeasing market hostility toward nations. It is secured by the European tax-payers - even though none of them get a voice on that much. The choices for those who practice democracy in this era are extremely limited when it comes to caliber of politician. More and more parties embrace this heist taking place.
Yet, in a recession-ridden continent, the gap between the wealthiest in our society grows by considerable percentage points with each passing year.
Those prepared to lie to voters the best - excel. In large part they are chosen from within a party structure. All seemingly willing to go along with this despite the facts speaking loudly for themselves. What they have done is not working. The lack of accountability speaks for itself to many people.
Conditions attached to accessing the ESM are designed around the economy-imploding concept of Austerity - which is already causing social devastation across Europe.
Greece has seen a 40-fold increase in instances of suicide as a direct result of austerity. Spain has unemployment in the region of 20%. Youth unemployment stands at 50%.  

Of course there is rarely an account of that within the mainstream media. Here in Ireland the 'Yes' camp are already eating up most of the column inches. The government are in a mess. Though on the same side, they don't hymn from the same sheet. It becomes more apparent each week. Little niggles setting in.
   Eamon Gilmore has said that even if we vote 'No' Ireland may still be able to access more funds from the world-renowned state-asset stripper, The IMF. In contradiction to that, Michael Noonan has said that is not the case - that during negotiations with the IMF he was assured Eurozone countries could not access additional funds from the organization.
 Even if people had a fair chance at weighing up their options, if the government of the day can't get their mantra in tune, what chance for the rest of us? Simon Coveney - Fine Gael election director has voiced that he hopes to get the treaty passed by being nice - but sre willing to 'put the frighteners on the electorate''  if necessary. It's hard to believe we elect these people.
The government and Fianna Fáil are calling for that 'Yes' vote. It does nothing but further etch into the minds of Irish people that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are one of the same. To have the Labour Party on board is an added bonus for all concerned. Particularly those is the service of self.

Sinn Féin are the only mainstream party to oppose the treaty as they continue their rise in the opinion polls on the back of a wave of populism in a country beginning to get to grips with the scale of the problem but devoid of any worthwhile idea out of it.
 Former Fianna Fáil deputy leader, Eamon Ó' Cuiv, has broken party ranks and is also calling for a 'No' vote. He also hinted last week that Sinn Féin would be ideal coalition partners for Fianna Fáil in the future. Will he join them?
Other left-wing alliances and Independents in the Dáil are also calling for a 'No' vote as are a number of trade unions and social groups.

I'd have thought that after three and a half years since that infamous state bank guarantee that Ireland might be in a place where we might have been expecting to 'turn that corner' that the late Brian Lenihan once shouted about in the Dáil chamber as he delivered one of his earlier austerity budgets.
As I said back then, we indeed turned a corner. Blindfolded. Straight into a brick wall.
With an inquiry into that fiasco under way, the focus in some mainstream media outlets is back on that fateful night - and on that decision which is proving fatal for the country.
It has come to light that a series of high-powered meetings took place between major banking institutions in the country and the Department of Finance in the days leading up to the decision to guarantee banking deposits off the back of the Irish tax-payer. Saddled with that we never had a chance.
According to the Sunday Independent government ministers were told that AIB, and not just Anglo Irish were in "immediate danger" of collapse and that there was a concerted effort to protect AIB and Bank of Ireland at Anglo's expense. There is also efforts being made now to have Brian Lenihan's personal papers from that time handed over to the forthcoming inquiry.
Former Ireland's wealthiest man, Sean Quinn, is also trying to access those papers as he attempts to prove Anglo advanced billion euro loans to him illegally.
Are we foolish enough to fall for another tribunal? Another few hundred million down the drain with the same level of accountability as those dished out to date by Mahon and Moriarty. None.

Where does all this leave any of us? Where we have been for decades on way or another, I'm afraid. In limbo. It would be great to say the worst is over. Unfortunately, it may still have to come. It suits the government parties for this treaty to pass. They can then ride out their terms with their six-figure salaries and five-figure expense accounts and just proportion blame on the ECB and the IMF. They'd be simple implementers of external policy - which we hand over by passing this treaty. Do we really think the majority of politicians care at this stage, when every decision taken by successive governments since that night have seen nothing only Ireland taking huge steps backwards in many areas? Do the Germans or the IMF give a hoot about the Irish people? I don't think so.
Even with the security that comes with accessing this fund - the loss of control over fiscal matters that comes with that decision will have a massive impact on Irish life. Standards of living continue to erode as cuts are implemented to a broad range of services.
In this country we put rogue bankers and banks before the education and health of children and the care of our sick and elderly.
These cuts also come at a time when the cost of living is going up for most people. It's just a recipe for disaster any way people look at it. Damned if we do - damned if we don't.

Capitalism. Glorious capitalism.  Where would we have ended up without it?
 At what cost the stage on which it all plays? The planet on which we dwell in the pursuit of - I'm not sure what if I'm honest.
And the players on that stage? The actors - as we watch it all. Corruption of the highest order in areas that will affect us all in the short-term. Looking on as climate change occurs before our eyes and we yet we don't insist on it being on our leaders agendas.
The rise in fuel for heating and for vehicles has risen dramatically over the past decade. Has oil peaked? Is oil on the decline in a world where the new superpowers are only opening the doors to their own forms of progress. Consuming it as fast as it comes from the ground or sea? What happens when it all runs out or when American have to pay top-dollar at the pumps?

It was about a month before the Lisbon 2 run-off that I took to writing seriously. A lot came and went during that time.  A postcard from Gustav arrived in the letterbox at the tail-end of last week. I watched from my sitting room through those netted curtains that have hung there for decades as the wind tried to blow the wet proofs off the postman.
Extension to vacation. Be back next week. Gus. 
I'm not too happy having to fork out for a mouse for the snake and Trigger eats like a horse I'm sure I'll get a bottle of the usual for my troubles - but we're not that big of mates. Not like Enda Kenny and Phil Hogan anyway.

Still, every downside can have an upside. Depends on how we look at the glass, I guess. The words are flowing to some degree again. Away from this political and national mess. Maybe it's time to leave this political stuff to one side. Just write more books.
I wonder how journalists and commentators who have spent a lifetime covering this charade feel. It's not like much ever changes. There's more cahoots than cohort in Irish society. When the cahoots pay the cohorts it drives divisions in society. That's where we seem to be at.
 A tangled web that there is no getting out of. Unless you can pull yourself free from it. Otherwise it is there people get caught. Be it debt or head-space. Ones as bad as the other. Having a government fast losing its grip on that mandate they continually go on about doesn't help matters along much either.

We'll know in 31 days. I guess I trudge up and cast a vote. One final time.
I wonder if they send out Mum a polling card? I'd hardly pull it off this time? No. I better leave her sitting where she is. It didn't work in 2009, it certainly isn't going to work now.

I must nip up and see her.

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